Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTPUNJAB -

Dal­its con­sti­tute about 32% of Pun­jab pop­u­la­tion, the high­est among all states in the coun­try. Most of the Dalit (Sched­uled Castes) pop­u­la­tion is con­cen­trated in the Doaba re­gion, tak­ing the com­mu­nity’s per­cent­age here to around 45%.

Of the 117 con­stituen­cies, the re­gion sends 23 rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the state assem­bly and vote share of the Dalit com­mu­nity in these seg­ments ranges from 30% to 50%. The Dal­its mainly are di­vided into two com­mu­ni­ties — the Ravi­das­sias, fol­low­ers of Guru Ravi­dass and the Balmikis.

The Ravi­das­sias dom­i­nate the re­gion, sta­tis­ti­cally speak­ing. Such is the dom­i­nance of the Dalit com­mu­nity that the Hoshiarpur and Ja­land­har Lok Sabha seg­ments cov­er­ing most of Doaba are re­served for SCS. ac­tiv­i­ties.

Since the re­gion has wit­nessed var­i­ous Dalit move­ments, in­clud­ing the Dalit resur­gence in the late 1980s and early 1990s af­ter which the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) was formed, the com­mu­nity mem­bers here are not afraid of tak­ing the other sec­tions head-on.

“It’s an as­ser­tion of the Dalit iden­tity. Ear­lier, when any act of out­rage and high­hand­ed­ness hap­pened, Dal­its used to lie low. But with an in­creas­ing aware­ness and spread of ed­u­ca­tion, the Dal­its are more united than be­fore,” says Ram Lal Jassi, a Dalit leader. re­placed the scrip­ture with ‘Amrit Bani: Sat­guru Ravi­dass Granth’ and founded the new re­li­gion ‘Ravi­das­sia Dharam’.

This is seen as a ma­jor event in the break­ing away of Dal­its from the fold of Hin­duism and Sikhism.

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